US Immigration Reform – Can the Gang of 8 Push it Through?

A group of eight senators – four Republicans and four Democrats – has submitted proposed immigration legislation that would overhaul the US immigration system in ways unseen in almost three decades.  The aptly dubbed “Gang of 8” is pushing hard for action on the bill as soon as possible, but challenges remain.  This article details two of the highlights of the proposed immigration reform and examines the changing landscape of support for such reform.

What’s Being Proposed?

The pending immigration legislation would, most controversially, provide for a path to permanent residency and even citizenship for the 11 million-plus persons presently residing illegally in the United States.  Under the bill, such persons would have to pay a fine, undergo background checks and wait in a long line before being apply to apply for a US green card – it would be 13 years from passage of the bill before these people would be eligible for a green card.  The rationale for this move is that it would bring people out of the shadows and possibly lead to more tax revenues.  Plus, advocates say, it simply is not feasible to deport 11 million people.  Critics claim that this provision amounts to “amnesty,” and say it will only encourage future law-breaking – people will come illegally to the US, knowing that they will likely eventually be pardoned by a future change to the immigration laws.

The proposed immigration legislation would also change the way USA green cards and immigrant visas (which lead to a green card) are distributed among family-based immigration and business- or investment-based immigration.  The changes would favor the latter to the detriment of the former.  This represents a major shift – US immigration law has long had as its top priority “family unification,” which bodes toward favoring family relationships over business and investment interests.  The proposed changes are especially geared to attract science, technology, engineering and math experts to the United States, along with investors and job-creators.  Proponents of family-based immigration of course take issue with this proposal; they argue that having one’s family around is vital to healthy families, which is in turn vital to having a healthy and prosperous society.

The Climate Appears to be Ripe for Reform – What’s Changed?

Something similar was proposed in 2007 but ultimately failed, while the bill (or one like it) looks primed to pass this time around.  Many credit the bill’s better chances to changing demographics.  In addition to there simply being more Latinos and other minorities in the country now than there were a few years ago, who put pressure on the Obama administration and on Congress, electoral politics are huge – Obama won some 70% of the Latino vote in 2012, waking up many Republicans to the reality that they must get behind immigration reform (which is important to many Latino voters) to have a chance at political success in the future.  Due largely to this, it looks likely that major immigration changes will happen in 2013.  Most Democrats are on board with the legislation, as are many Republicans.  More conservative members of Congress, especially those of the Tea Party ilk, tend to be against comprehensive immigration reform.

About the Author
By Brad Menzer – Brad blogs regularly for Heartland Immigration, which specializes in helping clients get an I-601 waiver. You can contact him at:
Check out the firm’s Google+ page for immigration info and updates.

Second Presidential Debate Analysis

The second Presidential debate has just come to a conclusion with both candidates having good debate performances.  The President had a much improved debate performance, coming out aggressively and assertive.  Governor Romney was sharp and much aware of the domestic issues that the country faces.  So who won on specific topics?  Let us break down the debate.

The one thing that irks me the most is the assumption that the President has moderate control over gas prices.  The President has almost no control over gas prices and Romney tried to use high gas prices as a case against the President.  You may ask “Well then who controls the price of gas?”  It is the market, the continuous rise in gas prices is largely due to increased demand in emerging countries like China, Brasil, and India.  Other big contributing factors are unrest in the Middle East and oil speculation on Wall Street.  The President made a great point tonight by acknowledging these facts and dealing with them by increasing gas efficiency standards by car companies to double fuel economy in the next decade.  Romney’s plan is rather vague, like most of his campaign promises.  When it comes to energy policy I think it is clear the President has the advantage, he has an aggressive energy policy that does not simply rely on what we can bring out of the ground, but focuses on how we can create renewable energy for future generations.

Next is the issue of immigration and Governor Romney did a great job in exploiting the President’s record on this topic.  The President did promise that within his first year of him being in office there would an immigration bill presented to Congress that he supports.  President Obama broke this promise and Romney made him pay for it tonight by exploiting his statement made prior to getting elected.  In June, President Obama made an announcement stating his administration will allow the children of illegal immigrants to stay in the United States legally under his new plan.  The move was 100% political in an attempt to shore up the Latino vote in the November elections.  But when it comes to immigration there is not a good alternative, Mitt Romney’s immigration plan will certainly not benefit illegal immigrants and does not specify his exact plans to bring upon comprehensive immigration reform.  When it comes to the immigration I will give the win to Governor Romney simply because of Obama’s broken promises on immigration.

Once again the candidates were asked to explain and defend their tax plans.  Romney pointed out his intention of eliminating the estate tax, the Alternative Minimum Tax, and capital gains tax on taxpayers making less than $200,000 per year.  Other than these main points he still has not elaborated on his tax plan, making it impossible for experts to predict the impact of these tax cuts.  The President was quick to point out that his tax plan could not be imposed and cut the federal deficit at the same time.  Although Obama’s tax plan is popular, it does little to reduce the federal deficit unless a steady economic recovery occurs.  On the issue of taxes, the winner is easily President Obama because his tax plan is much more specific than Governor Romney’s plan.  I would consider changing my mind under the condition that the Governor would specify the loop holes that will be closed under a Romney administration.

The candidates also touched upon several foreign policy topics in which I will briefly address.  The death of Ambassador Chris Stevens became a hotly debated topic tonight.  The President assumed responsibility because it happened under his watch, but it is still unclear exactly who in the administration is to blame for not only the ignored calls for extra security, but also for the delayed response by the administration. On the issue of the Chinese government manipulating currency, Romney came down hard on the President for not doing enough to stop the Chinese from keeping the value of their currency artificially low.  Romney claims that he will label China a currency manipulator his first day in office and most experts claim that this will only escalate tensions between the U.S. and China, possibly ending in a trade war.  Recently the Obama administration has been in private negotiations with Chinese officials regarding their currency manipulation, but with little success.  The path the Obama administration has taken is seemingly the best option as opposed to Romney’s plan, but produces only limited gains.  When it comes to foreign policy topics covered in the debate tonight I will give neither candidate the win because much of the information on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya is still not reported and both candidates don’t seem to have credible plans on how to handle China’s currency manipulation.

I do not feel that tonight’s debate will decide the election, more than likely it will all come down to Monday night’s debate.  Monday night’s debate is the most crucial debate between the two candidates to leave a lasting impression on voters before they hit the polls November 6, be sure to tune in.